Idaho Officials Find Way Around Massive Mud Slide That Has Trapped Elk City Residents

Feb 23, 2016

The people who live in Elk City are still trapped in their tiny Idaho County town, after a massive mud and tree slide wiped out the only road, Idaho Highway 14. Since Thursday, only mail and medicine has made it into town, via snowmobile. But the Idaho Transportation Department says help is coming.

The slide took out both sides of the highway and ITD hasn’t said how long it will take to clear the mountain of mud and debris ten miles west of Elk City. So Tuesday they plan to open an old Forest Service road to get people and supplies in and out.

The detour route (Newsome Creek Forest Road #1199) will open Tuesday and then stay open every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until the slide is cleared. It’s a 20-mile bypass through the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest.

The detour will work as follows: There will be one downriver trip at 8 a.m. and one upriver trip at 3 p.m. For the morning trip, drivers will meet at the Elk City Laundromat. The number of cars will be limited because they will be driving on an unpaved road that was recently covered in five feet of snow. It's been plowed, but officials are worried too many cars could make the road impassable.

Meanwhile, Idaho County is working to find ways to bring fuel and other necessities to the people living above the slide. Idaho 14 is the only way in or out of Elk City, Red River, Orogrande, American River and Dixie during the winter.

The Idaho Statesman says 250 people live in Elk City and another 20 live in Dixie, 20 miles further. Elk City is 60 miles east of Grangeville.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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